It finally feels like SPRING!! As someone who thrives off sunshine and fresh air, this weather change in NYC is exactly what this girl needs, especially after being stuck in bed for a week plus at this point. Spring has always been my favorite season, I think because the blooming plants and warm air are an especially nice treat after a brutal east coast winter (and also because it’s my birthday season, let’s be real). I always feel something special in the change from winter to spring, a change somehow more uplifting and symbolic than that between the other seasons.
Anyway, since spring always just makes me feel GOOD, I try and capitalize on that renewed sense of energy and get in a little good old fashion spring cleaning. It’s never something I feel like I need to do, instead something that I want or need to do (I promise I never feel this excited to go through old stacks of papers other times of year).
This year, as part of my spring cleaning, I am focusing not only on going through my closet and identifying items of clothing to donate and throwing out old papers that have piled up in drawers and on counters, but also on a personal and emotional spring cleaning. To me, this means identifying the aspects of my life that are no longer working for me and figuring out how I can either remove these aspects completely or replace them with something more self-serving.
I recently finished reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and this book has been a major inspiration for the way I am planning to attack some of the less than perfect things in my life this season. Duhigg explains that everything we do and therefore all the results we receive, are part of a habit loop that is so ingrained in us that we barely even recognize these things as habits at all. For example, we talk all the time about developing the habit of going to the gym, going to bed earlier, or choosing healthy food choices, but the things we barely think about are also habits, like when I habitually wait until my medications are empty to request re-fills or new prescriptions or wait until I am out of toilet paper or toothpaste to buy new toilet paper and toothpaste.
According to Duhigg the habit loop is pretty simple. We are cued to do something (you are feeling stressed), so you do something else (have a glass of wine), and you then are rewarded (by feeling less stressed). This trains our minds to believe that when we see or feel whatever the cue is, we need the middle “something else” to achieve the end reward. He goes on to explain that changing the habit is as simple as replacing the middle “something else” with something that may serve us better and achieve the same reward. Ingraining this new loop will then also create the habit.
So using this philosophy here are a few of the habits I am aiming to change this spring:
Eating when I’m not hungry: I know I snack when bored or unfocused, so now what I am bored at home I will instead pick up a book, magazine, or just read something, and if I am unfocused at work I will take a five minute break to either search the Internet or chat with a colleague.
Mindless Instagram scrolling: I get called out on this one all the time. I do it to “feel” productive when I don’t feel like working on actual content for you all. It makes me “feel” productive but ultimately at the end of the day, just more stressed that work didn’t actually get done. So my new habit will be that if I am on Instagram, I am actually going to be engaged, which will also help with my feelings of productivity at the end of the day.
Hitting snooze: I always hit snooze a ton of times (this is not the first time I’ve tried to change this one, but never with my knowledge of the habit loop). Now, instead of hitting snooze, I will immediately stand up to force myself to feel more awake. This will get me the same feeling of “awakeness” as ten more minutes of sleep could possibly do.